By JOE ODELL
Student at the University of the West of England
Students at the University of the West of England are campaigning to bring a Palestinian student, currently suffering because of Israel’s crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip, to come and study at UWE.
In January 2009 a group of around 30 students staged an occupation at the university, to protest against Israel’s deadly “Operation Cast Led” attack on the Gaza strip, which had claimed over 1,400 lives and left many others injured, homeless and malnourished.
The students occupied the space for 3 nights and presented the university with a list of demands, the most significant of which was that the University provide fully paid scholarships for Palestinian students in Gaza to study at the University of the West of England.
Two years on, the University has agreed to fund one fully paid scholarship at the cost of around £45,000 a year. However, this is on the condition that the donors raise the first £5,000 pounds. Once this has been achieved, the University will fund a full scholarship for a Palestinian currently living in the Gaza Strip. This will profoundly change the life of someone currently suffering because of the blockading of Gaza by Israel.
The students are now in the process of raising £5,000. They aim to raise the money by June this year, which would allow a student from Gaza to start studying as early as September 2011.
In order to raise this money the students have decided they need to look outside the university for private donors. So far the students have managed to raise £3,575, with Viva Palestina donating £2,000 towards the cause.
Yazan Abu-Jbara, a UWE student and a member of the conflict Zone Bursary team, says :“We aspire to champion the real people behind the politics who are in intolerable situations and experiencing unimaginable suffering. The Conflict Zone Bursary fund has been set up in order to offer these people a way out. We hope the project will run annually to create lasting legacy, offering scholarships to students from war-torn countries.”
The aspiration is for the Conflict Zone Bursary fund to run every year and function as a lasting legacy, with the University providing scholarships to students from war-torn countries. Each year the country will be chosen by the donors.
In a statement the University said: “The students are working very closely with the University and we have given our full backing and help to the student campaign. If you have any queries and would like to talk to someone from the University about this then please don’t hesitate in contacting Emma Sambrook, Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Emma.Sambrook@uwe.ac.uk.”
To track progress, read more or donate please visit the campaign website.
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